Daily Family Worship

Matthew 27: The Death of Christ

by | Jan 27, 2024

matthew 27

The chief priests and elders had already pronounced Jesus to be guilty, and they had treated Him as a criminal that was under sentence of death. But before they took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to plead for His execution, they were visited by Judas. The betrayer “repented himself,” but not until it was too late to repent to any useful purpose. Besides sorrow, confession, and restitution, a real change of heart and soul is necessary for true repentance. Judas never attained to this essential thing, for he went and committed the most hopeless of all sins: self-murder.

Jesus was brought early in the morning to be stand trial before Pilate, who was fully aware “that for envy they had delivered him” up to be condemned. He desired to release Jesus; but at the same time, he was also anxious to please the people. And as is commonly the case with those who try to serve two masters, he fell into even greater sin. He first proposed to the people – according to the custom of releasing to them a prisoner during the Feast of Passover – that they should choose Christ for the person to be set at liberty. But they chose to prefer Barabbas, a robber and murderer, over Jesus, the Prince and Giver of true Life! The crowd began to clamor for His immediate execution by crucifixion. Pilate, after some weak remonstrances, finally endeavored to shift the blame from himself upon them by symbolically washing his hands. And how sad it is to read that the Jews, in the hardness of their hearts, were actually willing to take the whole guilt upon themselves! “His blood be on us, and on our children!” they cried. From this sorrowful sight, and from the record of this hardened imprecation, we may still praise the goodness of God; for out of all this violence and cruelty, He brought about the redemption of His fallen people. Let this curse of the Jews be turned into a prayer on our lips, beseeching the Lord that the blood of Jesus may indeed be upon us and upon our families – not for our condemnation, but for the saving of our souls! 

While Barabbas the murderer was being unjustly released, Jesus – the Prince of Life – was unjustly stripped, scourged, mocked, crowned with thorns, and led outside of the city in shame to be crucified. Upon arriving at the place of execution, the Roman soldiers offered the Savior a drink of vinegar mixed with gall, in order to dull His senses before He was nailed to the cross. Jesus tasted it so that He might fulfill every Old Testament prophecy of the bitterness of His sufferings. But “when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink”; for He intended to bear the pain of the cross patiently on our behalf, with all His senses alive. After they had crucified Him between two thieves, the soldiers divided up His garments and cast lots for them. And those in the crowd around the cross, as well as the thieves suffering on the crosses beside Him, reviled Him and challenged Him to come down from the tree if He were really the Messiah. As He suffered, “there was darkness over all the land” from noon until about 3:00 PM. Toward the end of His sufferings, He called out, in the words of David, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1). What amazing love He had for us, that in order to take the full punishment that was due to us for our sins, He endured His own Father’s turning away from Him in His hours of pain and shame, so that we might never be able to justly say that we have been forsaken by God. But in this agony of Christ, some in the crowd either mistook His words, or purposely made a mockery of what He said. And in response to His cry of painful thirst, instead of a bit of cooling water, someone offered Him a spongeful of vinegar to drink, which would have added more torture to His parched tongue and lips. After this, Jesus “cried again with a loud voice” and yielded up His spirit. Then there was an earthquake, and the veil inside the Temple was torn apart, representing the fact that the way of access to our heavenly Father was now opened forever because of the blood of His own atoning death, In other words, the Holy of holies was no longer restricted from being entered by the common person!

Thus were the Savior’s pains concluded, which He suffered once and for all to take away our sins. He truly became the sin-offering for us – the sacrificial Passover-Lamb, Who was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). He laid down His life, so that God – for His sake – might forgive our sins, make us the children of His love, and bless our souls in heaven. “When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:5). He endured the agony of pain and shame and nameless horrors, and He carried the intolerable burden of our sins. He was smitten down by the stroke of displeasure from our heavenly Father, by which we ought to have been consumed. Christ crucified is the foundation of our hope! And when we ourselves are called to endure affliction, we may rest assured that it is the gift of God’s love – as well as the mark of our being His sons and daughters, by the adoption of grace!

After the Savior’s death, a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathaea “went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus” so that he might show it proper respect with an honorable burial. “He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock.” But Jesus’ enemies were not satisfied to merely see Him dead. In order to prevent any pretended resurrection, they obtained a guard and sealed the very stone that covered the entrance of the tomb.

Lord Jesus! We give You thanks that by Your death, You mercifully tore aside the veil which separated our sinful selves from the presence of our holy God! Amen.

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illustration by Pearl  |  Lightstock.com

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